If you want to improve your language skills by speaking one-to-one with someone else, and at the same time help someone learn your language, you can do a conversation exchange, also known as a language tandem.
How do I find a tandem partner?
What is Tandem Language Learning?
Language learning in tandem is autonomous learning: two people helping each other improve their language skills. A tandem arrangement may complement a language course, or may stand on its own.
The fundamental principle of tandem language learning is the "Principle of Reciprocity". The success of a tandem is the reciprocal dependence and mutual support of the partners.
This principle points to one of the main advantages of tandem learning - both partners are learners, both partners are teachers. In a successful partnership each partner will walk miles in the other's shoes, talking all the while in the other's tongue.
What should we 'do' during a tandem exchange?
Beyond the principle of reciprocity described above, there are no hard and fixed rules. We suggest the following, but each pair will find their own best way of learning from each other.
- set up a timetable.
- agree on a physical/virtual space.
- agree on goals: do you need/want to learn the language to go on a mission in February? to read sources? If you don't have a precise fixed goal, but want to learn this language because it's beautiful, create an achievable goal.
- agree on activities e.g. do you want to do 30 minutes each language each time, or focus on one language only each time you meet?; do you want to concentrate on speaking, reading, writing?; do you want conversation alone (e.g. if you are also following a course) or do you want homework, and guidance on extra activities (if this is your only learning source), etc.
- be sensitive, patient, clear and understanding. Most of all, enjoy yourselves!
If you want ideas about what sort of language practice you could do during a language tandem, or materials, contact one of the CALL teachers.
Page last updated on 17 May 2023